Adapting and Flourishing
eXp has been constantly adapting and changing its practice over the past several months with the constant changing of regulations and government restrictions. Despite this, our youth work has continued to flourish and stay consistent. Our staff team has had some new and exciting additions! Susan Whyte has remained Team lead, Anne Armstrong has remained part-time Administrator, Robert Dallow has moved from a part-time to full-time youth worker, Jack McGinnigal is a fresh face to Dunoon and the team having started full-time in September 2020 as a youth worker with eXp and Blair McColm has started his part-time apprenticeship in September 2020. With the additions and growth of the staff team, there have been a lot of exciting things going on, which you can read about below!
School of Music
eXp School of Music received a grant from Allchurches which is allowing them to expand the project into the foreseeable future. The School of Music has been meeting monthly over Zoom. Here young people have been receiving music lessons on their chosen instruments, playing games, and working towards musical projects that are put together with the help of Gordon Whyte! All of our music projects can be found on the eXp YouTube channel! The School of Music is adapting well to Zoom and is currently seeing its third block of guitar lessons being instructed over video calls with a small group of young people. If you or anyone you know would like more information about the School of Music and how you might get involved, please be in touch. All abilities welcome!
Before the December 2020 lockdown, both the boys’ and girls’ D-groups were enjoying meeting physically. Since then, we have adapted our session to run over zoom. D-group is a safe place for young people to chat openly and confidently about their thoughts, beliefs, and faith.
The boys’ D-group had fun before lockdown playing games, eating food, and talking about our own faiths – whatever that might be. It’s always a great time being able to honestly and openly share with each other. The boys are now working over zoom and ensuring these important and fun conversations are not being missed!
The girls’ D-group have been going through the Youth Alpha Videos. These have created interesting conversation. The group is a safe place to share our ideas and thoughts around faith and world issues. During this current lockdown (Dec 2020 into 2021), we have met online for some general conversation, games, and encouragement.
The MAD club enjoyed their Christmas party which was held in December 2020. We had a buffet and games session. This was enjoyed by all and rounded off 2020 nicely for the group. Into the new year, the MAD club have been meeting over zoom, playing games, and having as much fun as possible!
All MAD club members are looking forward to being back together again in-person to enjoy each other’s company and get back to Making A Difference.
Friday Night Live
As government restrictions have had us all sitting in our homes, eXp took this opportunity to start introducing our ‘Friday Night Live’ sessions. ‘FNL’ started through the first lockdown in March 2020 and has been a regular feature on our Friday nights. We used the power of Facebook live to reach and connect to young people and volunteers to run a series of game nights such as ‘Among us’, ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’, ‘Problem-solving’, ‘Countdown’, and many more.
These have been developed to now run-on Zoom and we are looking ahead at running more FNL sessions around the concept of ‘escape rooms’ and hosting a zoom talent show!
Running weekly from October – December 2020, we were able to run an after-school activity session each Friday on the DGS PE AstroTurf! At these sessions, we focused on football and saw some great participation in a variety of weather! We are looking forward to starting these sessions up again when it is safe to do so.
At these activity sessions, we would focus on mini-games to warm the young people up, before finishing in a big football match with all of the young people. It was great fun and each week we came away with a ‘person of the match’, who would receive a prize for their participation and sportsmanship.
Our Rookies group had been meeting monthly from September – December 2020 in person, which was a really enjoyable time. At these sessions, Robert would focus on young leadership training such as child protection, risk assessments, and leading games. We would make sure to incorporate socially distant fun and games into this time as well.
We went through group activities such as looking at our priority pyramids, re-committing to our new rookie agreements, using picture cards to describe our answers and feelings, and more. These sessions were important to not only grow our leaders but further strengthen relationships within the group.
Since then, we have been reaching out to the Rookie group over zoom when appropriate. Generally incorporating the Rookie group with our MAD group, keeping things fun and light-hearted as our young people tackle the challenges of online school.
Planning has started for our Stepper group who will be entering 3rd year in August, which is an exciting time for both eXp and the young people who will be involved.
As DGS returned after the summer holidays, eXp were blessed with the opportunity to be a consistent presence in the school lunch hall. Initially, Susan, Jack, Blair, and Robert, along with a few of our volunteers who graduated from the school, were able to provide this lunchtime support. Soon we developed weekly challenges where young people could partake and be in with a chance to win the weekly prize. These challenges included ‘flump scranning’, ‘Don’t lick your lips challenge’, ‘phone timer challenge’, ‘After eight challenge’, and many more. Jack, Robert and Blair all had great fun running these challenges and meeting lots of new faces. A partnership with the local cinema meant that we were able to hand out discounted cinema tickets as prizes to our young people!
We are excited to get back into DGS when it is safe to do so and to see all the young people again.
Jack has connected with some of the rural primary schools around Cowal. He has had a great time meeting new young people and teachers. This is a new chapter to a lengthy and positive partnership between eXp and these schools.
Jack and Blair both took the children from Tighnabruaich primary school on a ‘Church Heritage Walk’ where the children learned about the history of the church and Christianity in the local area. They were also able to do an outdoor Christmas activity with children at Kilmodan and Tighnabruich. Jack was invited to an online all-school assembly with Kilmodan Primary School in February and was encouraged to hear how the children are doing during the current lockdown. We are excited to keep our connection with the schools in the future.
In January of 2021, we decided to start sending out ‘Pick-me-up Parcels’ to a number of our young people and adult volunteers. In the parcel was a personal letter from each of our staff team (Susan, Robert, Jack and Blair) and a wee treat in relation to each letter. This was inspired after realising that everyone is constantly online right now and a break from the digital world to read a letter would be a positive change and hopefully the contents of the letter would make a positive impact on each individual. This saw in total around 50 young people and leaders receiving a pick-me-up parcel, with great feedback from those who received them.
Mid-February we started to put the ‘Graffiti Wall’ project together. To brighten up our eXp office and to give the eXp family a presence in the office, we have decided to send out ‘graffiti wall’ packs to all of our young people, volunteers, and trustees. The pack includes some card, paints, and instructions for each person.
We are hoping to receive back lots of paintings from the eXp family back around Mid-March, these will be displayed in our office windows in the first instance and then moved to form a very colourful ‘graffiti wall’ in our office.